“We have the opportunity, even in difficult times, to let our spirit shine.”
— Jack Kornfield
Jack Kornfield (@JackKornfield) trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India, and Burma, shortly thereafter becoming one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974.
Jack has had a profound and direct impact on my life, and I’m thrilled to have him on the podcast once again.
Jack co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts (with fellow meditation teachers Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein), and the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology and is a father, husband, and activist.
Jack’s books have been translated into 20 languages and have sold more than a million copies, including The Wise Heart; A Lamp in the Darkness; A Path with Heart; After the Ecstasy, the Laundry (one of my favorite book titles of all time); and his most recent, No Time Like the Present: Finding Freedom, Love, and Joy Right Where You Are. He offers a brilliant online training program for those who want to learn to teach meditation at JackKornfield.com.
This episode is more of a personal therapy session for yours truly in some respects. You will notice that I sound anxious and unsure in this interview, and that is very much by design. I think it is unhelpful when people in the public eye hide the fact that they also struggle, and it puts them on this illusory pedestal that I think is ultimately self-defeating. Instead, I want to share with you that no matter how much Stoic philosophy I read, no matter how often I meditate, there are times when I struggle, and this week is one of them.
I also hope that you’ll listen to portions of this conversation multiple times. There are a number of exercises that Jack shares that I will certainly be listening to in the upcoming weeks.
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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
Want to hear Jack’s first appearance on this show? Listen to this episode in which we discuss hang gliding, monk training in Thailand, unpleasant mystical experiences, the difference between compassion and empathy, lovingkindness meditation, and more. (Stream below or right-click here to download.):
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Jack Kornfield:
- Jack Kornfield — Finding Freedom, Love, and Joy in the Present, The Tim Ferriss Show #300
- Insight Meditation Society
- Spirit Rock — An Insight Meditation Center
- The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield
- A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times by Jack Kornfield
- A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield
- After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path by Jack Kornfield
- No Time Like the Present: Finding Freedom, Love, and Joy Right Where You Are by Jack Kornfield
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), CDC
- Buddhism, Religious Literacy Project, Harvard Divinity School
- What Is a Bodhisattva?, Tricycle
- Already Free: Buddhism Meets Psychotherapy on the Path of Liberation by Bruce Tift
- Peace Corps
- 872 Days In Hell: 38 Chilling Photos Of The Siege Of Leningrad, ATI
- Grams of Hope: Daily Bread Ration in Besieged Leningrad, RT
- “Sports Do Not Build Character; They Reveal It,” Quote Investigator
- A Great Wind Carries Me, Flourish & Bloom
- The Explorers Club
- Absolutely Clear by Hafiz
- “Life is Trouble”, Zorba the Greek
- The Dharma: The Teachings of the Buddha, Religious Literacy Project, Harvard Divinity School
- Samadhi, The Yogic Encyclopedia
- Awakening “The One Who Knows” by Ajahn Chah, Lion’s Roar
- Ego-Dissolution and Psychedelics: Validation of the Ego-Dissolution Inventory (EDI), Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
- Hinduism, Religious Literacy Project, Harvard Divinity School
- Judaism, Religious Literacy Project, Harvard Divinity School
- Kabbalah and Hasidism, Religious Literacy Project, Harvard Divinity School
- One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan by Ryokan
- Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are by Jack Kornfield
- Ayahuasca-Assisted Treatment, MAPS
- Ibogaine Therapy, MAPS
- The Search for Soma, The Ancient Indian Psychedelic, Psychedelic Times
- Tripping on Peyote in Navajo Nation, Scientific American Blogs
- Magic Mushrooms and the Healing Trip, The New Yorker
- Dying to Know: Ram Dass and Timothy Leary
- How the Vietnam War Empowered the Hippie Movement, History
- How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan
- The World’s Largest Psychedelic Research Center, The Tim Ferriss Show #385
- About Holotropic Breathwork, Grof Transpersonal Training
- The Federal Drug Scheduling System, Explained, Vox
- Meditations by Jack Kornfield
- 11 Mysterious Things That Occur While You Sleep, Bright Side
- Stan Grof, Lessons from ~4,500 LSD Sessions and Beyond, The Tim Ferriss Show #347
- Aphasia Symptoms and Causes, The Mayo Clinic
- The Cosmic Game: Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness by Stanislav Grof
- Marsh Chapel Experiment (aka Good Friday Experiment), Wikipedia
- 1962 Good Friday Experiment (Podcast), MAPS
- Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Research Center
- The World’s Five Biggest Refugee Crises, Mercy Corps
- Nature’s Lessons in Healing Trauma: An Introduction to Somatic Experiencing by Peter Levine, Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute
- EMDR Institute
- Tara Brach on Meditation and Overcoming FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), The Tim Ferriss Show #94
- Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach
- Amid COVID-19 fears, I confess this conversation isn’t entirely selfless — it’s as much therapy for myself as it will likely be for my listeners. Jack demonstrates an exercise he used to help a large virtual class in China cope with the fears and anxieties generated by the current situation there. [08:10]
- How might someone blend a Western developmental framework with an Eastern fruitional framework to best solve the unique problems we’re facing today? Could it be as easy as remembering “your Buddha nature and your social security number?” [16:06]
- Jack recalls the first time he got malaria as a monk in the forests of Thailand and Laos in the ’60s, how his teacher helped him through it, and the lesson we can take to find our center in the midst of outwardly miserable circumstances — how we can witness what’s present without being lost in it. [21:08]
- Our society may not be well-prepared to deal with the further spread of COVID-19, but here’s a lesson from WWII that might help us prepare ourselves with some perspective. [25:41]
- If it’s true that adversity reveals — rather than builds — character, has Jack noticed any patterns among people who are having the greatest psychological difficulty dealing with the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and is there anything to be learned from them that can help us? [28:15]
- At nearly 75 and part of the demographic most susceptible to the COVID-19 coronavirus, how does Jack relate to his own mortality? He tells us about a visit with his twin brother shortly before his passing a few years ago and what he did to facilitate peace at this difficult time. [31:43]
- Meditating on the four dimensions of freedom that allow us to “enter the terrain of birth and death with a wise and spacious heart.” [38:52]
- What might Jack suggest as a way of helping people overcome their fears and anxieties around the process of dying — either for themselves or their loved ones? [49:19]
- I concur that using an altar for the sake of visualization can be surprisingly effective, and that linking consciousness with others may be helpful for people who feel isolated during periods of quarantine or social distancing. Jack expands on the idea that we shouldn’t be squeamish about letting things go. [57:44]
- What is the significance of Guan Yin for Jack as a symbol of something we all have inside of us, and what is spirituality really about? [1:01:22]
- Jack’s take on psychedelics as sacred medicines throughout human history, their welcome reintroduction to the mainstream after being demonized for decades, and the complementary relationship between psychedelics and meditation. [1:07:21]
- In what ways does Jack feel these sacred medicines can be overused or abused when they’re not treated with due respect? [1:16:34]
- Often underrated ways that we, as spiritual beings, can access and interact with the mysteries around us — from poetry to sleep. [1:20:33]
- Recommended preparations and precautions before dipping a toe in the pool of psychedelics. [1:23:05]
- According to Stan Grof, what is experiencing an urge toward suicide really trying to tell us? [1:26:31]
- Jack’s favorite Stan Grof book. [1:27:42]
- When Ram Dass passed the torch of psychedelic research to Roland Griffiths. [1:28:27]
- How experiencing psychedelics under a controlled setting at Johns Hopkins differs from casually taking them at a party. [1:31:11]
- How would Jack suggest that people think about trauma? [1:32:16]
- Jack explains how, in his final years, Ram Dass became “a lighthouse of love.” [1:44:03]
- What is Jack focused on these days? [1:48:52]
- My personal endorsement of the expansive toolkit that Jack and clinical psychologist Tara Brach brings to the table — especially for anyone who has ever considered learning to become a meditation teacher. [1:51:03]
- Parting thoughts. [1:53:21]
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with over 400 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
Published at Thu, 12 Mar 2020 16:48:43 +0000